Keeping up the fight

2014-03-29 00:00

MARITZBURG United go into this afternoon’s PSL clash against Platinum Stars in Rustenburg without the pair of Orlando Smeekes and Mohamed Awal, who failed to recover from the injuries they picked up against the same opposition in the Nedbank Cup last weekend.

The loss of Smeekes is a major blow to the Team of Choice, as the striker has been in lethal form in recent weeks with his unconventional yet effective style of play down the left flank causing endless problems for opposition defenders.

The good news, though, is that United have scored in each of the nine matches that they have played since coach Steve Komphela took over at the start of the year. The former Free State Stars mentor has had an instantly positive effect on the squad, and he is getting the most out of his players.

One such player is fullback Rheece Evans, who has been ever-present in Komphela’s team selections. Pacey and energetic, Evans has held his own against the league’s most dangerous attackers this season, and he even got on the score sheet twice in this month’s 3-2 win over Free State Stars at Harry Gwala Stadium.

Having played four matches in 11 days for United over the last couple of weeks, one would expect Evans to be in line for a rest at some stage. But so important is his contribution to United that Komphela is likely to keep selecting Evans, as long as he stays fit.

“Obviously when you play week in and week out it has an effect on your body,” Evans told Weekend Witness. “But I am still young and I am able to recover in between games. We have a fantastic medical team that know how to manage us.”

This afternoon’s clash is vitally important to United. With relegation strugglers Polokwane City and Free State stars locking horns today, United will be pulled back into the fight for survival if they lose. Three points, on the other hand, will ensure that they move at least seven points clear over the danger zone.

“We have been in this situation since I’ve been at this club,” said Evans. “Quite simply, we need to win matches. The coach has given us a target of 10 points for every five games and that is what we are fighting for.”

Turning his attention to Stars, Evans said that last weekend’s cup victory wouldn’t have as much of an impact as some might think.

“We know their strengths and they know ours,” the 23-year-old said. “Having played them last week can help, but every game is different so we’ll just take it one step at a time.”

It has been a breakthrough season for Evans, and with time on his side he will be a difficult player for United to hold onto in the years to come as long as he keeps improving.

“I’m trying to remain as consistent as I can and progress from game to game,” he said. “I’m feeling more comfortable and confident on the ball and I’ll just try and stay humble.”

Elsewhere in the province, Golden Arrows simply must get something out of the match when they host Wits at King Zwelithini Stadium tonight. Abafana Bes’thende are six points behind Polokwane with two matches in hand, and with time running out this season, every game becomes desperate.

Sixth-placed AmaZulu travel to Ernst Middendorp’s Bloemfontein Celtic tomorrow. All three matches will be televised.



3.30 pm - Platinum Stars v Maritzburg United (SABC 1)

6 pm - Orlando Pirates v Moroka

Swallows (SS4)

8.15 pm - Golden Arrows v Wits (SS4)

8.15 pm - Polokwane City v Free State Stars (SABC 1)


3.30 pm - Mamelodi Sundowns v

University of Pretoria (SS4)

3.30 pm - Bloem Celtic v AmaZulu (SABC 1).

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